One of the scariest experiences for a homeowner can be dealing with an animal trapped in your home. No matter if the animal is stuck in your basement, attic, or chimney, this can be a very unnerving issue to deal with. Moreover, unlike renters, homeowners are totally responsible for finding a remedy to issues such as these. That said, the following is a list of things you can do if an animal gets stuck in your chimney.
A Few Things to Consider
Before you decide how you will get rid of the animal trapped in your chimney, you should be mindful of a few things. First, despite the fact that they can be dangerous, most animals who get stuck in your chimney do so by accident. In fact, wild animals frequently mistake chimneys for hollowed out trees and have no idea that they are chimneys connected to a home.
Is the Animal Actually Trapped?
Either way, it is important to know the difference between a stuck animal and an animal that is simply nesting in your chimney. In general, a trapped animal is frantic and will frequently scratch or flap their wings in an attempt to get out. On the other hand, an animal that is using your chimney for shelter (often raccoons), will only move around at certain times a day as they are able to leave at will.
What to Do if an Animal is Trapped in Your Chimney
Now that we have helped you figure out whether the animal is truly trapped or nesting, let’s take a look at some of your options when you have unwanted animals in your chimney:
- Rope it In: If you believe an animal, such as a squirrel, you can help them escape by lowering a 3/4 inch thick rope into your chimney, making sure it is long enough to reach the damper. Make sure you secure the rope by tying it to the top of the chimney. Alternately, you can tie some sheets together to make a rope. Either way, be sure that you have someone spotting you on the ladder and that your roof is safe enough for you to walk on. Leave the rope in for a day or so and then check your chimney again to see if the squirrel left.
- Bait and Switch: On another note, if the animal is stuck in the fireplace (rather than the chimney), you can use a live trap with peanut butter in the fireplace and allow it to enter on its own time. However, given that some animals attempt to bolt when they are approached, you should make sure they also have a clear path to exit your home when you go to set the trap. This is a more advanced technique and should be used cautiously or left to the professionals.
- Nuisance Approach: If you have a raccoon in the chimney and you are seeking to push them out, you can use apple cider vinegar, and pour it down the chimney to create a nuisance. Also, turning on a loud annoying radio station on a portable radio and placing it under the damper may help encourage the family to relocate. It is up to you what annoying means… but Bach and Beethoven are probably soothing for reference.
- Call a Professional: While the above suggestions work in some cases, every case is different. You should never do anything that requires you to directly interact with a wild animal. Therefore, if you have no clue how to get rid of the animal or feel you may be putting yourself in danger by attempting to remove it yourself, you can call your local animal control or hire a professional animal removal specialist to assist you. We have a few of our favorite vendors listed, here on our Partners page, see if we recommend someone in your area.
Moving forward, be sure to have a professional chimney cleaning regularly and pay the extra cost to have a durable chimney cap installed to prevent things like this from happening in the future.